Taiwan's president says the death toll from flooding and mudslides
triggered by Typhoon Morakot will likely exceed 500 people, in the
worst storm to hit the island in 50 years.
Ma Ying-jeou told
aides at a national security meeting Friday that nearly 400 people were
probably buried alive when a mudslide covered the village of Shiao Lin
in southern Kaohsiung county. More than 100 people have been confirmed
dead due to the disaster.
Mr. Ma's government has been
criticized for what many say was its slow response to the crisis.
Thousands of villagers were trapped when floods and mudslides wiped out
scores of bridges and roads after Morakot hit last week, dumping more
than two meters of rainfall on the island.
Taipei has deployed troops to the region to rescue thousands of villagers and provide emergency aid, mainly by helicopter.
officials in Taiwan are appealing to foreign governments for large
helicopters that are capable of airlifting earth-moving equipment and
Mr. Ma's Cabinet is expected to create a
special budget to cover more than $3 billion in estimated damages
incurred by Typhoon Morakot.
The typhoon also damaged undersea
cables, disrupting Internet and telephone services to several countries
in East Asia. Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom issued a statement Friday,
saying it is working on restoring service.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.